A masked child getting a bandage stuck on her shoulder.
Illustration: PGN

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What you need to know

  • Make sure your child has received all of your state’s required immunizations.
  • Talk to your child’s pediatrician to confirm your child hasn’t missed a routine immunization during the pandemic.
  • Routine immunizations ensure that we remain protected against serious diseases.

The back-to-school season can be a busy time for families. As fall begins, parents’ to-do lists start filling up. But school supplies and apparel aren’t the only items that need to be taken care of. Depending on what grade your child is in, they may need to get certain routine immunizations to stay up to date with your state’s requirements.

Which routine immunizations does my kid need for school? 

States require that children entering kindergarten receive their:

  • Fifth dose of DTaP (for diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough)
  • Fourth dose of IPV (for polio)
  • Second dose of MMR (for measles, mumps, and rubella)
  • Second dose of VAR (for chickenpox)

If your child is in sixth or seventh grade, they likely need to receive their Tdap booster and meningococcal vaccine. Your kid should also always receive the annual flu shot.

The CDC’s recommended child and adolescent immunization schedule provides more details, and you can also refer to your state’s specific immunization requirements for students.

It’s also smart to check with your child’s pediatrician on vaccinations your kid should have completed as an infant. There may still be time to catch up on crucial infant immunizations, including hepatitis b (HepB), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13), and hepatitis A (HepA).

What should I do if my child missed their routine immunization?

Since many health care services were paused during the pandemic, your child may not have gotten their routine immunizations within the recommended time frame. If this is the case, talk to your kid’s pediatrician to get back on track. Nearly all routine immunizations have a range of recommended ages for catch-up vaccination.

Why does my kid need to get immunized for a disease that has been eliminated?

Just because a disease is no longer circulating in the U.S. does not mean that it cannot return. As we’ve seen with polio’s recent reemergence in New York City, infectious diseases that have been absent from a community for years or even decades can pop up again. Staying up to date with routine immunizations ensures that we remain protected against many serious diseases, including those that have been eliminated.